JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
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JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Roger Sant Collection
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)

Château des oiseaux

Details
JEAN (HANS) ARP (1886-1966)
Château des oiseaux
white marble
Height: 19 1/2 in. (49.6 cm.)
Width: 16 3/4 (42.8 cm.)
Conceived and carved in 1963; unique
Provenance
Denise René, Paris.
Henry Markus, Chicago (1964).
Staempfli Gallery, New York.
Robert W. and Anna Moffo Sarnoff, New York (acquired from the above, 1 March 1965); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 8 November 2006, lot 444.
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2008.
Literature
W. Stechow, Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, 1967, p. 168.
E. Trier, M. Arp-Hagenbach and F. Arp, Jean Arp, Sculpture: His Last Ten Years, New York, 1968, p. 123, no. 300a (illustrated, p. 79, fig. 82).
A. Hartog and K. Fischer, Hans Arp: Sculptures, A Critical Survey, Ostfildern, 2012, pp. 193 and 372, no. 300a (illustrated, pp. 193 and 372).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Post lot text
We thank the Fondation Arp, Clamart, for their help cataloguing this work.

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of 20th Century Evening Sale, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art

Lot Essay

After devoting himself principally to relief sculpture throughout his Dada and Surrealist years, Jean Arp found himself increasingly drawn to the expanded volumes of sculpture in the round during the 1930s, arriving at a language of burgeoning, organic forms that would serve as the wellspring of his art for the remaining three decades of his career. Carved from smooth white marble, Château des oiseaux is a prime example of the dynamic, sinuous forms of Arp’s mature sculptural language, capturing the spirit of invention and transformation that led Alfred H. Barr to proclaim the artist “a one-man laboratory for the discovery of new forms” (quoted in E. Trier, M. Arp-Hagenbach and F. Arp, op. cit., 1968, p. xi). For Arp, though, the creative process represented an act of discovery: “This is the mystery: my hands talk to themselves. The dialogue is established … as if I am absent, as if I am not necessary. There forms are born, amicable and strange, that order themselves without me. I notice them—as sometimes one notices human figures in clouds” (quoted in C. Craft, The Nature of Arp, exh. cat., Nasher Sculpture Centre, Dallas, 2018, p. 35).
Arp was fascinated by the complex relationship between man, nature and the material world, but remained adamant that his style evoked natural forms without imitation. “We do not want to copy nature. We do not want to reproduce, we want to produce,” he wrote. “We want to produce like a plant that produces a fruit... We want to produce directly and not through tricks... These paintings, these sculptures—these objects—should remain anonymous in nature’s enormous studio, like clouds, mountains, seas, animals, people” (quoted in Jean Arp: from the collections of Mme. Marguerite Arp and Arthur and Madeleine Lejwa, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1972, n.p.). Indeed, it was the essential spirit of nature, its unseen, driving forces that stood at the core of his creative vision. For Arp, an important route to achieving this lay in his belief that a sculpture should be appreciated in the round, from a multitude of angles, its profile shifting and changing as the viewer moved around the piece, just as would be possible when observing plants, stones, leaves or shells in nature.
In Château des oiseaux, the sculpture seems animated from within, its elegant, sinuous curves flowing and folding into one another, morphing and transforming under our gaze. The array of soft creases and crevices appear to echo the natural shapes of rock formations, gradually eroded over time through a combination of water, rain or wind, the white marble polished to a smooth and subtly luminous surface. These allusions to the natural world are further emphasized by Arp’s choice of title for the present work—Château des oiseaux translates to “Castle of the Birds,” calling to mind the large stone configurations within the landscape where seabirds roost, though the intimate scale and unusual shape of the sculpture suggest an alternate origin. As Janet Landy has noted, “The titles Arp gave his sculptures are evidence of his playfulness and his attraction to the poetic qualities of the words, as they allowed him to extend the visual response to his work into the verbal and mental realm” (“Between Art and Nature: The Metamorphic Sculpture of Jean Arp,” in Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, vol. 61, no. 4, 1984, p. 19).
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